He Gave Her Words

He Gave Her Words – mixed media on canvas paper 9 x 12″

Yesterday, when I stepped into the sheltering welcome of my studio, the muse whispered a tantalizing thought “He gave her words.”

Curious, I followed her lead.

I tore a page from an old book I keep on hand for just such occasions. I pulled out my GelliPad (a rubbery mat used for mono printing) and laid some colour down. Using the round end of a paintbrush, I drew a vase and flowers, laid the book page down and pulled a print.

The words on the page showed through. Cool. I kept going.

Pulled out a piece of deli paper, laid some more paint down (mostly darks), made more marks and pulled another print.

On the canvas paper page of my art journal, I collaged strips of paper from an old dictionary onto the page. The words defined on the torn strips all had to do with flowers. I collaged the deli paper printed page and then the printed book page onto the background and set to work creating a cohesiveness to the piece with paint pens, markers and fingerpainting – I had decided, somewhere in the process, that I wouldn’t use any brushes on this page. So I didn’t.

When I was finished, I placed my hands on the page, took a breath, closed my eyes and asked, “What words do you yearn to release?”

And the poem below came into being.

I am sharing my ‘process’ because it is, in so many ways, a reflection of life. We start with a desire to live life as best we can. We set goals. Follow dreams. Discover and use our talents. We gain knowledge. Expertise. Experiences. We layer on wounds. Scars. Cracks. They form the stories we tell ourselves about why or how we can or can’t do something. Those stories, made up of all the words we use to tell them to ourselves, again and again, create pathways, ruts, habits. Sometimes, we question their existence. Often, we accept them as natural limitations.

And then, one day, if we’re lucky or if we’ve hit such a devastating patch we cannot fathom how we will go on, we have no other choice but to start questioning the stories we’ve told ourselves about how we got to this dark and foreboding place. In our questioning, we start to unravel the words that formed those limiting beliefs that trapped us in believing this, this place where we feel so lost and alone and hopeless, is really all there is. Isn’t there more?

And then, if we’re really, really quiet, if we’re really, really still, we hear that voice deep within calling us to awaken. To open our eyes and heart and arms to the infinite mystery of who we are when we stop questioning our right to live wild and free and outrageously ourselves.

That’s when we begin the journey back to our truth. To the stories we tell ourselves, not of our limitations but of our limitless capacity to live wild and free and outrageously ourselves.

Yesterday, I stepped into the studio and the muse whispered, “He gave her words.”

I did not question, “What does that mean?”

I did not ask myself, “How on earth am I going to create something around ‘that’.”

Instead, I dove in. I let my intuition, my inner knowing guide me, unquestioning, into the creative expression of the muse’s invitation. I allowed ‘whatever yearns to appear’ to appear as I expressed myself without limiting my expression of my intuition by listening to all I tell myself I know about words and making sense of them or art and all I know about making it happen.

I stepped into the studio yesterday. I let go of ‘knowing’ and allowed myself to be present to the process of unveiling the mystery of what was seeking to be revealed.

And in the end, isn’t that what life is? A journey of exploration? A great mystery to be revealed with every step we take in its unfolding? Wild and free and outrageously ourselves.

He Gave Her Words
by Louise Gallagher

He gave her words
ripe and plump
full 
of plundered promises
plucked
from the strings
of memory
playing a melody
he vowed would never die
with the turning of each season.

He gave her flowers
colourful and bright
full
of tomorrows
never-ending
cast upon indolent days
spent languishing
beneath a summer sun
burning
hot against her skin.

He gave her promises
vanishing
like flowers 
wilting
beneath autumn’s kisses
bleeding colours 
dry
fallen
upon the frozen ground
of winter’s ice-cold breath.

He gave her words.
She gave her heart.

His words faded.
Plucked dry.

Her heart beats.
Fierce and free
of his words.

To Love Yourself Completely: Part 2

To love yourself completely, begin with finding beauty in the broken places. Layers of Love – mixed media on canvas board – 7 x 9″

Yesterday, I posed the question at the end of Part 1 of To Love Yourself Completely, “Knowing what you know now, what are you willing to do to love yourself completely.”

It’s such a delicious question. So invitingly full of possibilities.

I mean, think about it, knowing what you know now, knowing how important it is to love yourself completely, the paths to self-love are endless.

As are, it feels at times, the places within where ‘unlove’ exist in constant disharmony. Those wounded places where self-neglect and shame and other signs of self-abhorrence hideout and manifest themselves in harmful ways that diminish your light and leave you feeling less-than and unworthy, angry and discontented, sad and weary…

They don’t hideout in your heart, those wounded places. They’re buried deep within your psyche, swimming in a sea of emotional angst infecting every facet of your being with their angst-riddled ways. Their presence robs you of knowing and sharing your talents, gifts, beauty and light with passionate abandon.

What will you do to love yourself completely?

For me, the studio is where I come home to my heart, where my mind stills its constant chatter and I become embodied in the infinite beauty of being all I am in the present moment.

Yesterday was no different.

As I began to create, I knew I wanted to explore the question. What will I do?

Not holding myself to a set idea or plan, I gathered random items to work with. A dryer sheet. A delicate piece of crocheted lace my mother had given me. A broken chain from a necklace I’d used when I made my wedding bouquet (it was made of brooches and necklaces from family and friends). Some painted papers. A leaf I’d printed on a piece of fabric. A page from a book of poems that belonged to my father on which I’d drawn a heart-shape and other bits of ephemera including a bit of painted paper from one of my paper dolls.

I got out acrylics, inks, watercolours, my sewing machine and let my imagination run wild as I zigzag stitched items together and glued them onto a canvas board I’d painted at the start.

When I was done, I sat quietly, eyes closed and rested my hands on top of the completed piece.

What is your story? I asked it. What truth are you revealing?

The answer drifted effortlessly up from the font of wisdom that is always present deep within my belly. Or, perhaps it floated down from the collective consciousness that connects us all (I don’t consciously know where it came from – it just appeared, as truth often does)

To love yourself completely, begin with finding beauty in the broken places.

Ahhh yes. My heart sighed. Truth.

And my body embraced it as my mind quietened and rolled the words around and around.

Find beauty in the broken places.

There are so many, my mind whispered.

And my heart replied, “They are all so beautiful to me.”

Namaste

____________________________

I shared this piece yesterday with an art journalling group I belong to. One of the members called it – Layers of Love — it fit so beautifully. Thank you Pamela W. ❤

Unfinished Business

For the past few weeks, a fellow artist and I have been engaged in a collaborative project. It’s undefined, in so far as there’s no overarching ‘piece’ we are creating that we can show as a ‘finished project’.

It’s more in keeping with who we are as artists. Curious. Intuitive. Flowing. Impulsive. Courageous.

We connected through an online art journalling community, Get Messy Art, created by Messian Fairy Artmother, Caylee, whose energy and sparkle permeate every page and activity on the site. My collaborator friend suggested I check it out. I’ve known this friend for awhile through another course we’ve both shared in, but I’ve never spent a lot of time with her one-on-one, but I love her art and energy and gave it a go. I’m loving it.

GetMessyArt, as described on the website is…

an online art journaling school that teaches you to cultivate your creativity. Without perfection. You’ll always be welcome in – messy mind, paint plops, charcoal smudges, ink-stained fingertips and all. Zero expectations. Zero pressure. All the fun.

Every month, Get Messy holds a “Season”. A one month exploration of a specific topic through art journaling prompts, video lessons and conversation.

January’s prompt was collaboration. When my artist friend contacted me to ask if I wanted to join forces, I knew I was ‘all in’. Creating with her was bound to be fun, fascinating and fabulous!

Our collaboration has not disappointed.

Part of the collaborative process is to determine your own project.

For my partner and I, we decided to pose a weekly question. We would each either write to the question or create a journal page to express it. We’d then send the other person whatever we’d created and they would then do the other half of the response using our contribution as the inspiration. For example, this week the writing comes first, art journal page second. Yesterday, we both shared what we’d written in response to the question, “What do I fear letting go of?” During the week, I will create an art journal page in response to what she wrote, and she to what I wrote.

It has been a fascinating journey. (I’m sharing the process as we both love how the guidelines we set up are both expanding our thinking/feeling – generating some wonderful conversations on our weekly zoom call – and our creative expressions. – And who knows! It might inspire you to try it with someone too!)

Last week’s question from my partner in this project (we take turns posing them) seemed relatively simple – “What do you do with the unfinished business.” The unfinished business being those projects you start and never finish. For this one, we painted first. Wrote second.

As I began creating my journal page in response to the question, I was surprised by what came up.

Originally, I was on the negative side of ‘unfinished business’. That place where I bemoan all the projects lying around not yet completed – read… probably never will be….

Yeah. You know. Those projects.

But here’s the thing. While creating my journal spread in response to the question, I discovered the things in my life I do not want to finish. The things I hope I always carry as ‘unfinished business’.

Like Trust. I hope I always grow deeper in trusting my heart. In following its beat. In expressing its rhythms in all the colours of the rainbow.

And Dreams. May I never finish dreaming. May I always have a new dream percolating as I create substance in another. May I always keep embracing the power of dreams to awaken my heart.

And Hope. I hope I never give up on hope. For a cure for cancer. For creating better ways of living our human condition, together. For peace. For justice for all. For unburdening of hearts everywhere. For this Covid world of virtual connection to shift away from isolation into connection in the real world.

And Prayers. May I always keep pushing into my unfinished business around prayers so that I can fall deeper into the power of prayer to connect me to the divine essence of life and its spiritual nature to guide me and others in our darkest moments.

And Love. May I never be finished with exploring what it means to Love fiercely, completely, courageously — all of me and all of you.

Sure, there are projects and ideas that lay around unfinished. My laptop has a score of stories I’ve started only to be left to cool their words in a dusty file somewhere in that mystical land called the C drive.

But beating myself up for those things is where I want to finish… beating myself up.

Loving myself, trusting my heart, never giving up on hope for a better tomorrow. Those things I hope I never, ever finish learning, doing, becoming, being.

Namaste

_______________________________

About the artwork: Originally, this piece was a bunch of arrows pointing in every direction and a few words. I thought it was about challenging myself to leave it looking so unfinished… But, as I sank into the creative process, I allowed myself to simply ‘be present’. To let my intuition/inner knowing/curiosity guide me – and that’s where I started to divine the essence of the power of unfinished business in my life.

And that’s another thing I never want to be finished with — learning how to let go and allow whatever is appearing to appear so that I can be finished with the need for perfection.

See! That’s the magic of the creative process — as I wrote that last line, I thought of another thing I would like to be finished with — doubting myself… so that I’m never finished with deepening believing in myself!

Dive In. Fill Up. Repeat

The muse and I have been dancing in the field of possibility, creating more quotes and paintings for my #ShePersisted Series.

I love the dance. I love how the muse flows with such ease and grace, encouraging me to cast caution to the wind and let my whole body immerse itself in the songs of my heart. it is a dance of love and joy.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been focused on ‘getting things done’. In particular, the uploading of the last 20 paintings and quotes onto my website.

It didn’t leave much time for dancing (it was a big job!) but it did deliver a lot of satisfaction.

It also gave me the current final painting in the series, No. 69 –

They said, we've always done it this way. It works.  
She said, your way has never worked for me.

I say ‘current’ because the muse and I love to dance together, and she loves to whisper sweet somethings into my ears. Often, those sweet somethings are new quote ideas for the series.

As well, in looking through the entire body of work, I think I may go back and update some of the visuals. If, and the if is actually an ‘I do’, want to get the series out into the bigger world out there, I need to ensure that each painting reflects my work appropriately in both the message and the art.

And, some of the earlier paintings, especially as I was first stepping into this creative field, are done in a style different than the later works. It makes sense. Given that this series now spans four years, my voice and artistry have evolved as I’ve grown more confident and courageous in its expressions.

Which also makes sense. Do something often enough, with consistency and heart, and your talent/expertise/expression will expand.

It’s like any activity. Shooting hoops. Javelin throwing. Skiing. Writing. Singing.

Do it with consistency and heart, your expertise naturally grows as well as your heart’s capacity to breathe deeper and infuse your physical and emotional efforts with more grace, energy and love.

Ultimately, one of the most vital and exciting things creating the #ShePersisted Series has taught me is… it’s all about heart.

When we put ourselves ‘out there’, when we give our heartfelt and heartful attention to something, our heart grows in its delight of our efforts to dance with wild abandon in the field of our creative expression.

And here’s the thing about ‘heart’. When those who witness whatever it is you’re putting your heart into applaud, cheer you on, encourage you, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of the dance living on and on and on. With every swoop of your body, wave of your paintbrush, throwing of a ball, swoosh down a mountainside, the encouragement of others helps to continuously draw you out of the fear ‘you can’t do it’ into that courageous space where you know deep within your heart, not doing it is the greatest risk of all.

It’s an eternal gift of reciprocity. Dive into what pleases your heart and fill your heart up with what brings you alive. In that space joy flows freely between the giver and the receiver.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

Which is at the core of my mantra today… Dive in. Fill up. Dive in. Fill up. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

______________________

I have been exceptionally blessed by the encouragement and support of everyone as this Series has evolved. Thank you. Your comments, high-fives, shares make a world of difference and keep my well of joy overflowing. I am grateful.

To take a look at the entire body of work of the #ShePersisted Series – click HERE.

Angel In A Canary Yellow Coat

Some mornings, when Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I head out for our first saunter, we cross paths with the woman in the bright yellow coat.

It is fluffy. Like a polar bear. Cuddly. Like Beaumont’s fur.

When our paths intersect, she always stops to say hello, though she never speaks those words.

The moment she is close enough to be heard, she blurts out some arcane fact of which I have little desire to know if it is true or not. I just like the fact she blurts out facts in the morning.

Did you know, she begins, before going on to tell me some novel thing about the moon, Tom Brady, the height of the Eiffel Tower, the flow of water in the river.

This morning, when we meet, she turns her face upwards as if to catch the tiny flakes of snow drifting down.

She puts one hand out, palm up to receive nature’s benediction and says, while staring pointedly at Beaumont, “These flakes are dog toys falling from heaven.”

Later, after we’ve parted, she to walk up the hill, me to turn into the lane leading to our house, I wonder if I heard her correctly. Did she say ‘dog’ or ‘God’?

It doesn’t matter, forwards or backwards, it is a delightful fact to savour.

I think it’s true.

Snowflakes are dog toys falling from heaven.

Like angels. Always present. Always fluttering their wings to create tiny miracles of joy in every day encounters where strangers come bearing enchanting gifts when their paths cross on snowy mornings.

And facts don’t need checking when they come wrapped up in the wonder of nature. They only need to be heard and honoured with a joyful smile of gratitude for the morning delight.

_____________________________________________________

I wrote this piece in the writer’s circle I participate in every Wednesday night. Created by the remarkable Ali Grimshaw of Flashlight Batteries, the circle is a safe and courageous place to explore word-craft, your poetic nature and our shared human condition.

Ali leads Writing Circles throughout the week. They are a wonderful oasis of beautiful souls gathering around the well of creative expression.

If you are looking for a ‘home’ to find your poetic voice, or just a place to come and rest awhile from the weary humdrum of life’s cachophony, connect with Ali and in that connection you will find yourself immersed in the wonder and awe she creates every week in her circles.

You can find out more about Ali’s online writing circles, click HERE.

_______________________________

and… this is the part I forgot to include!

This post about snow is also in response to the writing prompt today ‘WINTER’ on Eugi’s Causerie

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Your Weekly Prompt  Winter – February 4, 2021.

moonlit frosty nights

a whoosh of winter beckons

the awe of wonder

Go where the prompt leads you and publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be any variation of the prompt and/or image. Please keep it family friendly. Prompts close 7 days from the close of my post.

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And don’t forget…. it’s an invitation for anyone and everyone to join in — even if all you do is go and check out the links to other stories, it will be a delightful journey I’m sure!

How To Paint Your World

When snow falls and your heart yearns for spring blossoms, paint your world in all the colours of the rainbow. 7 x 10″ mixed media on canvas paper

The critter and I have a deal. He gets to chatter. I get to decide to listen, or not.

Of course, what’s not part of our deal is how when I choose not to listen, he gets louder. And louder. And louder. As if, the act of yelling will make my ears listen better.

When I’m yelled at, it feels like bullets speeding towards me. There’s no way to dodge them. I just have to take them and in ‘taking them’ hope for the best because under fire, I believe I’m helpless.

Not a very healthy nor creative place to find myself alone.

I’m sure it’s a residual from my father’s tendency to yell. His yelling scared me. A lot. In its presence I learned not to yell back, that only made things worse. I also learned, to ‘go mute’. To freeze.

Fortunately, with time and practice, not to mention therapy, I have learned to stay centered in my ‘I’ so that no matter how fierce the winds are swirling around me, I do not get caught up in the winds and lose my balance and direction.

Yesterday, as I prepared to work on a background I’d painted the day before in my art journal, the critter got busy.

“You know you’ll only mess it up,” he hissed.

I took a breath and readied my work table.

“You know it’s too precious to change? Right? Look at it. It’s lovely.”

I kept getting ready. I filled my water jar. Placed it ‘just so’ on my work table. Lined up my brushes, ‘just right’ and took another breath.

“Don’t do it,” the critter hissed. And then his voice rose as he saw me reach for a tube of paint and squirt some on my palette. “NOOOOO! STOP!!!!!” he screamed.

Startled, I hesitated.

Was he right? Was the piece too precious to change?

“YES!!!!” he cried jubilantly, jumping up and down in delight at my hesitation. “You know I’m right. Just leave it alone.”

It was the ‘leave it alone’ that woke me out of my critter-induced stupor of falling victim to his yelling. I can’t hear my heart beat when he’s yelling. I can’t hear myself in the face of such vehement opposition to expressing my creative essence.

And at the crux of it all, is my habit of wanting to just ‘leave it alone’ and pretend everything’s okay.

Leaving it alone is what has caused so many troubles in my life. Accepting the unacceptable, trusting the untrustworthy, staying silent in the face of abuse, leaving unspeakable acts unspoken, turning my back on conflict – none of that has served me well.

I squeezed more paint onto the palette, picked up a brush and before starting to paint, turned inward to the critter and whispered lovingly. “Thank you for trying to keep me safe. Thank you for wanting to protect me. And thank you for yelling. You woke me up and reminded me how, when I’m not listening inward, I’m prone to falling into the chaos around me.”

The critter sighed and fell back to sleep and I began to paint.

Go Right. (a Quadrille)

“Creativity,” she said, “Is a muscle. Use it or lose it.”

At least, that’s what I remember the muse whispering in the sweet nectar of that space just before the dawn where I drift in blissful dreamland, just before Beaumont the Sheepadoodle comes and sticks his wet nose in my face.

It’s his signal. “I have to go. Out. Now.”

Of course, The ‘now’ when it’s -23C (-9F) with the windchill takes a few minutes to happen. By the time I’ve layered up, Beau is at the front door. If he could cross his legs I’m sure he would.

We went out. Walked the quiet, frozen streets for 15 minutes while he contemplated the perfect spot to do his business.

Beaumont is a master at picking his moments (and spots). If I’ve made him wait he’ll make me wait too.

But, back to the muse and her whisperings.

Since I can remember, I have loved writing prose and poetry. I’m not a rhymer. I just feel great joy experimenting with the words to create images and connections and ideas. I love playing in the flow.

On Monday, the inspiration to play came from a poetry prompt at dVerse.

Today’s challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a quadrille poem. If you’re new to dVerse or the quadrille, it’s simply a poem of 44 words (excluding the title.) You MUST use the word “way” in your poem.

I accepted the challenge and the words flowed.

The first line that came out of my pen was, “That’s no way to be a lady.”

I laughed and invited it to wait. “You’re much more of a #ShePersisted kind of prompt,” I told it and saved it in my #ShePersisted quotes file. I know it will be waiting for me to pick up the brush and start creating anew.

‘Cause that’s the thing about inspiration. It doesn’t have a best before date. It only asks that we take note and trust that when the time is right, it will be there inviting us to come alive in its vision unfolding.

I began again on divining the essence of the ‘way’ to write my Quadrille. This time, the words settled onto the page like honey melting in a mug of hot lemon tea. The perfect blend of sweet and sour. Smooth and syrupy.

Okay. So it wasn’t as fast as honey melting in hot tea. It took several hours to get the words to sing within the parameters of a Quadrille. Exactly 44 words (not including the title).

But that’s the thing about creativity. It isn’t a once in a lifetime occurrence. It’s an, ‘I’m always flowing in and all around you’ kind of medium. Like the tide. Always ebbing and flowing. Constantly in motion.

My job isn’t to watch the waves roll in. My job, my passion, my creative urge is to dive in and ride the arc, carving my words onto the page like a surfer catching the break, swooping and dipping as she rides the curl, body balanced within the crashing swell until there’s no wave left to ride and she paddles back out to catch the next one and the next.

Creativity is everywhere. Creativity has no beginning nor end. It just is. A force of nature. A fact of life.

Which is why, I didn’t stop with writing a Quadrille. I painted it too.

Ahh…. that muse. She takes such delight in play.

 Go Right
 ©2021 Louise Gallagher
    
 Thinking I’d find
 a shortcut to happiness,
 I blindly followed
 the road most travelled.
  
 The road
 veered left.
 My heart said, 
 go right.
  
 I followed my heart.
  
 There are no shortcuts
 to happiness.
  
 There is only the way
 of the heart 
 leading through Love. 

_________________

And P.Ss — the song that was singing in my head as I painted happened to be a song written in the 60s by Malvina Reynolds and made popular by the great Pete Seeger.

Perhaps it will inspire you too!

The Gift

When the email arrived carrying a link to ‘The Gift’ I wasn’t really expecting it.

Sure, when Ian Hanchet (the gift giver) commented on my poem “If I Could...” he wrote, “I was inspired to immediately pick up my guitar and melody flowed from me. I recorded it on my phone, but I need to become more acquainted with the rhythms of your poem so that I may do each phrase justice. Too bad my life just got super busy. Maybe Next week I can return to this work of wonder.” When I read his words I thought, ‘how lovely’ and promptly wrote back to thank him and to let him know how excited I was he liked the poem that much.

And then, I let it go.

Yesterday, Ian emailed to say he’d finished the song and included the audio link.

I cried as I listened to it. Not just because Ian is a talented musician with the kind of voice that makes me feel like I am sipping an after-midnight scotch in a moody, crowded jazz bar somewhere along a dimly lit side-street in Soho only those who ‘know’ can get to after going down a flight of stairs leading to a deep red door that opens into the mystical world of late-night jazz, but also because in his gift I received something beautiful and precious — The gift of being seen.

I wrote back to Ian after listening to what he calls, ‘our song’ – which in and of itself feels like a rare gem to be treasured always – and told him how special his gift is.

Ian’s gift also carried me back in memory to another gift of a song I received years ago from my dear friend, artist, musician, writer Max C.

In 2014, when I changed the name of this blog to Dare Boldly, Max had read my declaration of identity and felt inspired to send me a piece of music he’d written to accompany it. He asked me to record my voice reading the declaration and then, he put it to his music.

Like Ian’s gift, Max made me feel ‘seen’.

I hadn’t forgotten about Max’s gift, though I hadn’t thought of it in a long while. What I had forgotten, however, was my declaration of identity – it’s the one I share at the top of this post.

Full circle.

That’s what Ian’s gift brings me. Full circle back to remembering – I am the song. My song.

What a powerful and liberating gift. To remember…

We are each ‘the song’ of our life.

We are each, The Song Maker. The Song Singer. The Song.

Let us always sing outloud. Let us each sing of truth, beauty, kindness, hospitality, generosity of spirit, Love.

Let us sing each other awake in a world we create together of beauty, awe and wonder.

Thank you Ian for your gift of many gifts.

I revel in gratitude.

___________

PS — along with being a musician, singer/song-writer, poet, Ian is an amazing writer, deep thinker, music historian and generous human being. You can find him on his blog, Vignettes and Bagatelles.

Click HERE to listen to ‘our song’ If I Could Give You My Heart.

How to start again.

Recently, Lisa Winkler, a beautiful human being, writer and author of the Lisa K Winkler blog, wrote to ask me if I had any ideas on how to get started again after taking a long hiatus from blogging. “How do you do it?” she asked – blog everyday.

Habit. Mostly.

Though in March 2007 when I first began my daily blog thanks to the encouragement of fellow writer and friend, Mark Kolke of Musings and other writings, it took a lot of discipline and commitment to set the habit in place.

Even when I only take a couple of weeks off, as I tend to do in the summer, I struggle to find my way back into my routine.

There are two ways that work best for me —

One is the first imperative — and that is I meditate before I write. I will often carry a question into my meditation — like, ‘what am I grateful for this morning?’ or ‘what is on my heart?’ I also often awake with an ‘idea’ in my head. I have learned not to push it away but to invite it to simmer and percolate so that when I sit down at my keyboard, it is willing to become visible through my writing.

The other is to write to a photo I took of the world around me or a piece of art I’ve created.

I write first thing in the morning so I don’t get distracted by my day. My photos are mostly taken on my walks with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle so they are nearly always about nature.

And then…. on those mornings where no thoughts arise as I sit down to write, I begin with the sentence… I have no idea what I’m going to write about today.

From there I just write whatever pops into my head about ‘having no idea what I’m going to write about’ until… as it inevitably does, the words morph into something from my heart. And then, when I’m done, I go back and delete the first few sentences/paragraphs – the one’s about not knowing what I’m going to write about. 🙂

Sometimes, when I’m stuck, I’ll simply write about what I’m seeing. As an example, when I was responding to Lisa’s email, I wrote what I was seeing outside my window in front of my desk and right beside me:

Right now, there is a chickadee hopping around on the bare branches of the bush outside my window. I watch his joyful hops and feel my heart skip joyfully in harmony with his antics. The sky is grey. Beaumont lies at my feet, every so often nudging my knee with his head as if to say, “It’s time to get going.” I keep waiting for it to get brighter outside but I think it’s a losing battle. The sky is overcast, December grey. It’s time for me to go for my walk.

In 2007, when I first decided to get into the habit of daily blogging, I wrote a Commitment Letter to myself and posted it by my computer as a reminder and prompt for my writing.

I commit to writing a post a day.
I commit to being okay with writing 'bad'.
I commit to not letting judgement of the worthiness of my words stand in my way. 
I commit to being present to the page and whatever unfolds.

And then… I just let myself ‘write bad’ to get to ‘the good’ without fearing my inner critics yammerings.

In the beginning, I probably spent as much time editing as I did writing the first draft of my posts. Over the years, editing has faded by the wayside. As I became more trusting of ‘free-fall writing” – which is how I tend to write on my blog, I became more trusting of the ‘wise inner knowing’ within my heart and body – not my head. It means, inviting the critic (that critical voice of doubt and worry who sits on my left shoulder) to take a nap. This is why I avoid editing as I write – Editing invites both ‘the critic’ and my thinking brain into my process, interfering with ‘the flow’.

Writing everyday has become part of my life. It centers me, calms me and opens me up to the wonder and awe of the world around and within me, and, it connects me to the world ‘out there’. To you who visit and spend time with me here or on my social media feeds.

Writing every day is my contribution to creating better in the world around me, because, my commitment to myself is that, no matter what is going on, when I sit down to write, I must find the value in the darkness and share the light, the beauty and wonder and possibility I see.

By sharing light, I raise my own spirits. It helps me fee like I am living my life purpose “to touch hearts, open minds and set spirits free to dance in a world of love, joy and harmony.”

Thank you for being part of my purpose and for making my world so joyful and bright. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Namaste.

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On another note, I was invited to participate in an online holiday auction “A Fresh Start – Gifts for the Holiday Season presented by Fiera Capital” on behalf of Fresh Start Recovery Centre. Fresh Start has been helping people impacted by the disease of addiction to recover and reuniting families for 28 years.

The invitation reads, “Your gift creates impact! Life is the most precious gift you can give … the next is hope. You give hope for a second life to someone struggling with addiction, to a mother worried about her son, to a child getting a father back, to spouses reuniting or a grandmother reconnecting with an absent grandchild. These are gifts you make possible. Consider giving these gifts of hope and healed lives.” 

If you are looking for a beautiful, unique gift that also does good in the world and can help change lives, please check out the A Fresh Start Auction for Holiday Season Gifts presented by Fiera Capital. Click HERE to go to the website.

(I had trouble getting my submission together so it won’t be on the site until later today. The painting above is one of the three I submitted)

The auction ends at 8pm on Thursday, Dec 17th.

Radical Acts of Self-Love

Writing and painting are, for me, radical acts of self-love. It is my way of saying to myself, I see you. I hear you. I feel you. I honour you. And, I accept you in all your beautiful, flawed human ways.

And… because I want to celebrate all my beautiful, flawed human ways, I want my creative expressions be a reflection of all the delight and beauty, wonder and awe I see in the world around me, in its darkness and its light.

Some days, especially if I am spending too much time reading news reports and focusing on ‘the dark’ during these long nights of December where we wait for the light to return (here in the Northern Hemisphere), I risk feelings of apathy and helplessness overshadowing my heart’s desire for harmony and joy.

In those dark waters, I can forget all the Love and light in my life as I flounder on the edges of ‘the darkness’.

The darkness can be oh so beguiling.

But the darkness is not the place for me.

And so, I must consciously choose a radical act of self-love. And that’s where creativity, nature walks, dancing, meditating are so important. They are radical acts of self-love that create cracks in the darkness so the light can illuminate your path home to your heart.

Recently, as Covid news kept getting darker and even more restrictive social-distancing orders were coming into play to stop its spread, I felt myself leaning too far over the edge of darkness into that place where the light falls soundlessly away into an abyss of gloom.

I had to bring myself back into the light.

One of my favourite paths back to the light is through creative expression. In this case, creating ‘many somethings’ of a small nature. Somethings which, through both size and repetition, draws my thinking from my head deep down into my belly. To that place where the expansiveness of life flows freely in the deep, rich roots of my creativity.

The stars have a way of aligning when I need help seeing the light.

Last week, I received a letter telling me that I have been accepted to show at the Vale’s GreenHouse Cultivation of Art Show and Sale next June. I had been accepted this year but Covid dictated I not attend.

Being part of this show has long been on my bucket list so the news felt like a crack where the light could shine through. What a lovely blessing.

With art shows, I like to have something to give away. My favourite – bookmarks.

They’re small. Useful. And, when created with heart, can be beautiful.

Which made them perfect for my ‘get out of the darkness of your head thinking’ activity.

And it worked.

I spent a day painting bookmarks and found myself falling into the vastness of time free of worries of ‘what the future will bring’ or checking news reports in between surfing social media feeds.

In the liminal space of heartfelt creative expression, I found myself once again breathing joyfully into the depths of peace, tranquility and calm that reside at the core of my human nature. I found my way home to my heart.

The nights are long as our planet continues its orbit around the sun. And the news is grim around the world as Covid pushes deeper into the fabric of our lives.

Yet, even in the darkness, there is light. We only have to open our hearts and breathe deeply into the beauty of our human essence to see Love illuminating our path home to our hearts, no matter how dark the world around us or long and winding the road.

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Christmas is fast approaching and if you have been considering a #ShePersisted 2021 desk calendar as a gift, I only have a few left in stock.

Between now and Christmas, with every calendar purchased, I shall be including a hand-painted bookmark.

Calendars available on my DareBoldlyArt Etsy Shop